Hard + Holy

It’s been about three weeks of me consistently getting into the gym (and by consistently, I mean 2-3 times a week – baby steps people!) and I guess you could say I feel good about it. In all honestly, talking about fitness still makes me feel a little awkward and even more self-conscious than I normally do. I’m still working to get to the root of that because at the core of it – why should talking about something that is good feel so weird?

The work of nourishing and pushing our bodies isn’t just healthy – it’s holy. This work of pushing beyond our limits and nudging our bodies to do more than they’re accustomed to is hard and holy work. While we’ve given our lives to our Creator, we tend to do a terrible job of actually tending to His creation. From the environment to our bodies, we’ve proven ourselves as not being the best caretakers.

But this year, I’m doing my best to change this – at least in my own life.

Hard + Holy

I think this idea of viewing exercise and fitness as holy work comes from a few things I’ve had on my mind lately. It’s human nature to shy away from hard things. If it’s not fun or exciting or easy, odds are we just don’t want to do it. But so often, it’s in these hard moments that we can choose to start seeing it as an opportunity to lean in to God. An opportunity for worship, even.

There have been several moments in the midst of my training sessions where everything just starts to feel awful. I’m a sweaty mess, my once in-shape body is screaming at me to stop torturing it, and I’m certain that my trainer is out to get me (kidding obviously- he’s actually very nice!). It’s there, when we comes to the end of ourselves that the Lord does beautiful work. Because where we’re lacking, God isn’t. Where we aren’t strong enough, God is. And while it may seems silly to draw a connection between faith and fitness, the simple truth is that any circumstance that requires more strength than what we feel we possess is space for God to move.

A lot of my own issues with health and fitness, I think, stem from this nagging voice in my head that tries to tell me that I can’t do something. That I’m not strong enough to create, much less maintain, new habits. It’s consistently led me to the mistaken belief that I will fail before ever truly attempting. Battling the lies that have plagued us for years is hard work, friends, it is. But recently I heard something in a podcast that hasn’t left my head either. And it’s so good.

In Lara Casey’s Cultivate What Matters podcast (the episode titled, “She Believed She Couldn’t”), Lara speaks about her initial experience with her personal trainer in a early session. She shared about how everything in her body was screaming out that she couldn’t do what her trainer was having her do but then her trainer Ray looked her in the eye and simply said, “Decide. You. Can.”

Decide you can.

What a concept, friends. How many things in our lives would change in the light of those three words?

It seems simple. Three little words. But absolutely massive when you think of the implications. We decide that we actually can do the things that we think we can’t and then when things naturally get hard and difficult…ask God to step into the ring. Ask Him to fill in the gaps. Ask Him to provide the strength when ours runs out. Ask Him to pour out and overflow in the dry areas of our lives.

This road is hard, friends. But it is holy and so, so good.

Buffalo Chicken Chowder

If you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that I am absolutely obsessed with all things buffalo. If a dish has buffalo sauce incorporated, odds are that I will try it and love it. And given that it’s Winter and temperatures around here are finally getting back down again (we had a brief warm-up recently), I’ve been craving some cozy soups lately.

I’m the first to admit to anyone that while I love cooking/baking and being in the kitchen – I am not a recipe developer. Creating recipes is not necessarily a strength, but I do know how to follow them. But with that being said – I actually did create this one! I borrowed some favorite components of other delicious soup recipes and threw this one together.

Buffalo Chicken Chowder

Buffalo Chicken Chowder

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (I use rotisserie chicken!)
  • 2-3 medium sized russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 can mild diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • 64 oz chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup hot Sauce (Frank’s Red Hot Original is my favorite!)
  • 1 T ghee
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  • Melt the ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until onions are translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for about a minute. Add all remaining ingredients except the chicken. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Once potatoes are tender, add in the cooked chicken breast and stir to combine. Serve hot!

Beyond Measure

I suppose I’m a bit like everyone else out there when it comes to the approach of a new year. I get reflective – more reflective than usual, I mean – and I begin to ponder what the upcoming year is going to look like. The funny thing about that is that I know that the year is probably not going to end at all like what I envisioned in the beginning. I can look back to this these last few days of December over the past four or five years and I see the same pattern. And truth be told, 2019 is one of the first years that when I think ahead – I don’t really have a clear vision.

That’s not to say that I don’t have goals for this year or things that I’d like to work towards, because that’s not the case at all. These past few months have created a new sense of appreciation for detours and a beautiful acceptance in my heart. The road may diverge from where we think it is leading us, but the journey is good and holy and full of beautiful work.

From 2014-early 2018, I was in this season of preparation where I truly felt so in tune with what I felt like God was asking me to step into that I never even considered that possibility that He might change the plans on me. And when He did? Well, that’s how I ended up here. In a city that I’d once prayed that He would send me to but never did. In a job that I’ve spent five years thinking I’d be leaving.

I began 2018 believing that I was going to end up in Central Illinois for grad school and I’m ended it here in Central North Carolina. As Annie F. Downs writes in her most recent book, Remember God, “sometimes when you’re following God, even doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing can still land you in the wrong spot. Or at least not get you where you wanted to go. And yet sometimes, those are the best stories He tells. Heartbreaking. Hopeful. True for me.”

And for me.

As I sit here now, on day three of a new year, I do not believe that I landed in the wrong spot. Different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. But those words that Annie wrote in her book, this book that reached me at the perfect time, are certainly true for me. My walk with God is full of stories of Him using detours and heartbreak to create something hopeful and it gives me all the feels.

Life today looks differently than what I thought it would a year ago. And I will probably be saying the same thing this time next year. But today I’m crazy grateful for our God who consistently gives beyond measure and who chooses answers years-old prayers instead of my newer ones.

2019, Let’s Go

Happy New Year and welcome to 2019!

It doesn’t quite feel believable that it’s January 1st around here although that’s probably because it’s legit 70 degrees here in Raleigh today. Seriously.

It seems fitting, though, that today is the first day of the year and I spent a portion of it in the gym. Now, that’s obviously not all that different from thousands, if not millions, of other people but hey, I was there.

I’m beginning 2019 in a manner that I would have never thought I would – and that is with a trainer. It feels strange even saying that, like there’s this weird thing that happens when I even say the word “trainer” but nevertheless, I’ve got one. And truthfully, it was high time.

My health journey isn’t super interesting in the grand scheme of things and I’m still learning to listen to my body and become more in tune with what it needs. And right now, in this season, it needs the addition of strength training and I know myself well enough to know that I’m not going to get very far if I start out solo. Is it uncomfortable? Um, yes. My body kind of hates me. Is it awkward? Yep. But God has been showing me lately just how much I need to focus on my health in all areas (spiritual, mental, physical, etc). He’s reminding me that when one thing is off – whether it’s in my physical wellness, spiritual wellness, or whatever – it shows up in other areas of my life.

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